TORONTO, February 17, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - Ontario's population of residents aged 65 and over is projected to more than double from 1.8 million in 2009 to 4.2 million by 2036*. As this segment of our population continues to increase, reports of elder abuse are on the rise. Elder abuse takes many forms and often goes unreported due to embarrassment, loyalty, fear or guilt. Reported occurrence rates range between 2% and 10%. Those who assist abused victims believe the rate of abuse is closer to 10%.
Canadian studies have found that financial abuse is the most commonly reported form of abuse experienced by older people. Financial abuse can include frauds and scams as well as improper use of the continuing power of attorney. Financial abuse is most commonly a pattern rather than a single event and often happens over a long period of time. The abuser is likely someone trusted such as a family member but may also be a telemarketer or con artist. The victim is often influenced through manipulation, lies or threats.
ONPEA recommends ways seniors can protect their money from abuse:
...Consult your own lawyer to draft a power of attorney document and will.
...Choose people you trust to make decisions about your money.
...Arrange direct deposit for your cheques into your own bank account.
...Speak to your bank manager by yourself, that is, in the absence of your power of attorney, to make sure the bank is aware of your desires and following your directions.
...Set-up automatic payments for your bills.
...Keep your bank PIN number safe and DO NOT share with anyone.
...Keep track of all transactions and regularly review bank statements and financial records, even if you have a Power of Attorney doing this for you.
...Before you sign any document make sure you fully understand it or wait until you have someone you trust review it.
...Lend money only if you want to and always have a signed plan for repayment, even for family members.
...Be aware of your legal rights.
...If anyone is taking advantage of you or your money - TELL SOMEONE.
Where seniors can go for help in Ontario:
...The Seniors' Safety Line 1-866-299-1011 operates 24/7 and in over 150 languages. They can assist with safety planning and provide resources available in communities throughout Ontario.
...The Ontario Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (ONPEA) 416-916-6728 has regional offices throughout the province.
...Contact local police or OPP. Many regions have task forces and/or officers who specialize in working with seniors.
...Contact Senior Crime Stoppers 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) for anonymous reporting.
The Ontario Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (ONPEA) is dedicated to raising awareness of elder abuse and neglect, through public education, professional training, advocacy, and service coordination. In addition to implementing Ontario's Strategy to Combat Elder Abuse, ONPEA supports a growing number of vital projects and research in elder abuse and neglect prevention.